On Thursday, I had the honor of doing a satellite media tour for Merck for Mothers to talk with 23 TV and radio stations across the country about Merck’s huge global campaign to save the lives of moms during pregnancy and childbirth.  How big a campaign, you ask?  Big big.  Over ten years, Merck is committing $500 million to maternal health.  More about the campaign in just a bit.


In case you’ve never heard of a satellite media tour, here’s how it worked.  I got up at the crack of dawn to arrive at a studio in midtown Manhattan at 6:00 a.m. for make-up, hair, interview practice and a bite of breakfast.  For the TV and radio interviews, I was teamed with Dr. Priya Agrawal, executive director of Merck for Mothers, and now one of my favorite people on the planet.  Here we all getting all dolled up (sorry you can’t see Priya):




By 7:45 a.m., we were powdered, hair-sprayed, miked and in our seats in the studio, and in our earpieces, the producer was telling us that our video feed was being loaded onto the satellite and the name of the first town we would be talking to.


The teleprompter then showed the station name and the anchor’s name, and we heard the morning news music coming into our earpiece from the station itself, followed by the anchor asking us questions about the Merck for Mothers program.


On the other side of the camera, the TV viewers in the town saw us with our studio in the background, answering their anchor’s questions.  No doubt you’ve seen tons of satellite media tours on morning shows already, maybe without even knowing that the interview was coming in via satellite.


Each interview lasted between 3-6 minutes and then we were onto the next station, TV or radio, one after the other, until we had completed 23 interviews (!) by midday, finishing up with stations on the West Coast as people woke up to their morning news there.


I have to say at first it was a bit nerve-wracking, not knowing for sure what questions would come in and hoping and praying I wouldn’t stumble and forget to say something important.  But thankfully, we got into a groove and it all lined up.  And a huge bonus – without fail, the TV anchors and radio hosts were fascinated and totally into the topic.


Priya and I made a great team and had the most fabulous time together.  You can tell from her picture, can’t you, that she has a great big warm heart and easy laugh.  And she’s a Harvard-trained OB/GYN with tons of other credentials who’s been traveling the world and the U.S. implementing the Merck for Mothers program.  Priya handled the scientific questions about threats to maternal health beautifully and I talked about why maternal health matters to all of us, particularly moms online, and ways we can call get involved and support the effort.


And because by now you must be dying to know what we talked about (at least I hope you are!), here are some of our key messages:


– It’s outrageous that 1,000 women die in the U.S. every year from complications surrounding pregnancy and childbirth. (Did you know this?!)


– Merck did a survey and found that almost half of Americans have no idea that maternal mortality is a problem in the U.S.


– Maternal mortality is one of the oldest and most preventable medical tragedies on the planet today. If nothing is done to address maternal mortality over the next decade, nearly 3 million women will die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth.


– Merck for Mothers is a 10-year, $500 million dollar initiative to create a world where no woman has to die giving life.  Merck is working to develop new, more accessible technologies to manage two of the leading causes of maternal mortality – hemorrhaging (bleeding) and pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure) – and provide critical solutions, such as training midwives.


–  You can get involved by visiting the Merck for Mothers Facebook page to share the story of the day someone you love was born. For every story shared, Merck is making a donation to Join My Village, a program from CARE that empowers women and girls and supports safe pregnancies and deliveries.

–  With its “Once Upon a Birth” campaign and donation to non-profit Join My Village, Merck for Mothers is supporting programs around the world that are helping women get the care they need during pregnancy and childbirth.


Please support the Merck for Mothers program by sharing your birth story on their Facebook page!


A huge thank you to the fabulous team at Merck for Mothers and Marina Maher for a fascinating, meaningful and hugely enjoyable day and for all your work to make it such a great success!